KINGSTON – There was a lot Cathy Inglese could have been talking about for the 30-plus minutes following the University of Rhode Island women’s basketball team’s 64-43 loss to Fordham Wednesday night.
She could have been yelling about the fact the Rams shot just 35.4 percent from the floor, or that they were outrebounded 37-28, or that they were outscored 51-23 in the final 25:10 of the game. She may have been discussing geopolitics, fashion trends or how the fans must have felt to watch a truly awful performance.
Southern Rhode Island Newspapers didn’t have time to find out what was said. Coaches are given a 10-minute window after a basketball before speaking to the media. Wednesday’s game ended at 8:58 and at 9:35, Inglese was still in the locker room where she didn’t leave until 9:50.
To be completely fair, Inglese has already developed a reputation of being a very long-winded post-game speaker; Wednesday was her piece de résistance.
Of course, she had plenty of reasons to spend a little extra time in the locker room.
Wednesday’s game was more than big for the Rams.
As hard as it is to believe with only one conference win to its name, URI was still fighting for a spot in the Atlantic 10 Tournament – as was Fordham. A win over Fordham and a win Saturday over Massachusetts could have put the Rams in good position to qualify for the tourney, play their one game, lose and finish the season pleased that they made the tournament.
They can forget it now.
The Rams played reasonably well in the first half but were not the same team in the second. In past losses, URI has looked like a team trying to win, working hard and losing simply because it wasn’t as talented as its opponents.
Wednesday that wasn’t the case. URI was just as, if not more talented as Fordham, but the Rams completely lacked the grimy, gritty play that has given them a chance in most of their ballgames. They were outshot, outpassed, outhustled and totally outplayed in the second half and it’s like the reason – barring an educational discussion about what’s going on in Egypt – Inglese spoke to her team for nearly an hour after the game.
It was hard to believe it happened, because for the first 15 minutes of the game, the Rams looked like the Rams – except this time they were going to win.
The offense ran smooth, working the ball for open looks and while URI didn’t shoot well – hitting just 9 of 23 in the first half – there was consistency in finding points.
Tied at 9 6:33 into the game, URI went on a 11-4 run – which would have been more if not for some botched wide-open layups – to take a 20-13 lead with 5:10 left in the first half, the final basket on a Sherrie Session jumper.
It was the last field goal – or points for that matter - URI had for the next four minutes, finally getting back on the scoreboard when Megan Shoniker scored on a layup with 58 seconds left to stop Fordham’s 11-0 run.
Fordham’s Kyara Weekes made a pair of free throws on Fordham’s next possession, but Session came back with a jumper to make it 26-24 at the half. The Rams nearly took a lead on a half-court heave by Ajanae Boone, whose shot was lined up perfectly but was just a hair long.
In the second half, Boone gave URI a 27-26 lead with a 3-pointer 1:21 in, but it was the last time the Rams were in the game. Fordham went on a 15-0 run in the next 6:13 and URI could only cut the deficit to 11 before Fordham finished things off.
It wasn’t pretty and it may have been the breaking point in what has been a frustrating season.
The Rams play again Saturday at Massachusetts at 2 p.m. before playing Dayton in the home finale next Wednesday at 7 p.m.
For everyone’s sake, Inglese’s message should have resonated by then.